“The first element of European vitality must be solidarity”. This is the point of view of Pope Francis who, in his address to the leaders of the European Union today, stressed that “that spirit remains as necessary as ever today, in the face of centrifugal impulses and the temptation to reduce the founding ideals of the Union to productive, economic and financial needs”. “Solidarity gives rise to openness towards others”, he explained, drawing inspiration from the thoughts of Adenauer and the founding fathers of Europe: “In a world that was all too familiar with the tragedy of walls and divisions, it was clearly important to work for a united and open Europe, and for the removal of the unnatural barrier that divided the continent from the Baltic Sea to the Adriatic”. “What efforts were made to tear down that wall! Yet today the memory of those efforts has been lost”, the Pope warned. “Forgotten too is the tragedy of separated families, poverty and destitution born of that division. Where generations longed to see the fall of those signs of forced hostility, these days we debate how to keep out the ‘dangers’ of our time: beginning with the long file of women, men and children fleeing war and poverty, seeking only a future for themselves and their loved ones”.